Undocumented, Unafraid, Unapologetic…Depressed

For my 11 million undocumented brothers and sisters who have or continue their battle with depression while undocumented.

As she walked towards the car I could tell something was wrong. I asked her how her day was and tears quickly formed around her beautiful brown eyes. “I think I’m depressed,” she said. She was ashamed. She was tired of explaining why she couldn’t drive at night. “My friends don’t understand that not having a drivers license limits me. If I get pulled over I would be at risk. I’m tired.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 youth high-risk behavior survey released in June, Latina teens have the highest rate of suicide attempts among all adolescent groups in the U.S. 15 percent of Latina teens in the U.S. have attempted suicide. Compared to 9.8 percent and 10.2 percent for white and black female teens. About 26 percent of Latina teens considered suicide.

I’ve felt the exact same feelings my little sister was sharing with me.  The only difference is that she has some to confide in.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

My first encounter with depression started at 11 years old. We had just migrated to the United States. My parents were always working and the little money they earned was never enough.

Starting from zero meant hungry bodies, worn-out clothes, and living in fear. My parents each worked two jobs, we didn’t see them much. We would visit mom during her 30 minute break.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have a chance to be with her until her day off.

My father went from having his own firm to being humiliated and disrespected by his racist bosses. My mother went from being a college student to burning her soft hands and arms in the stove as she made your McDonald’s order. This hurt me. It hurt me a great deal.

In school, I had to work ten times harder than those around me. A family member told me I would never go to college because I was undocumented. “Stop trying so hard,” she said as she crushed my hopes and dreams. Proving people wrong is exhausting and giving up crossed my mind too many times.

I wasn’t even 15 yet and the pressure, fear, and hopelessness was quickly taking over.

In high school, I suffered in silence. I talked about college with my peers as if I knew I where I was going. No one knew I spent many nights crying myself to sleep because I thought I wasn’t good enough to have papers, to go to college, to be like everyone else.

In college, I no longer got the grades I was used too. I didn’t have time to make any friends because I was either working, catching up in school, or helping my parents with my siblings. I thought the college experience everyone talked about was only for those with legal documentation. I longed to be “normal.”

In May 2015, I burnt out and my depression was on full force.

Many of my mentors and friends told me to slow down and I didn’t listen. I thought I was unstoppable and I was spending all of my free time in meetings, preparing for speeches, attending conferences, etc. I became a poster child of the DREAMer movement in Iowa. I couldn’t let anyone down without feeling guilty or selfish.

Fighting the fight became my duty. Fighting the fight meant dealing with the fear of retaliation and exposing my parents too much.

Spring semester finals week: I couldn’t get out of bed and nothing could make my migraines disappear. The hopeless feeling had returned. I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. I couldn’t fix my damaged-self alone.

I was a 21 year old carrying all of the weight of the world on my young shoulders.

In October 2015, I was driving home from work. I was sleep deprived and too exhausted. All I could think of was how much I could rest if I wasn’t on this Earth anymore. Driving my car off the road seemed like the perfect solution.

I had never been so serious about a thought like this and it scared me. I pulled over and cried. I was ashamed of myself for considering this.

The fear of deportation never leaves our thoughts. Some of us might be protected under DACA, but our loved ones are still at risk. The pressure of being a good immigrant is exhausting and it sets unrealistic standards for undocumented children and youth who just want to live in peace. 

DREAMers and their families deal with trauma, depression, and anxiety on a daily basis. They may not talk about it or show it, but they struggle is constant.

Every day, I feel guilty that I am protected and able to pursue my dreams with DACA, but my parents can’t. I have a drivers license, and they don’t. I can pursue good paying jobs and sit on a desk, while they work for little money cleaning and building other people’s homes.

Every day is a struggle that very few see.

Allies learn to love, support, and understand DREAMers. Encourage them to live life and show them their worth on Earth.

And lastly, to my fellow DREAMers, depression is a struggle that many deal with. Seek the help you need, take care of yourself, and know you’re worth. Without you, we wouldn’t be a community of 11 million strong undocumented immigrants.

It’s okay to not be okay. It’s not okay to struggle alone.

128 thoughts on “Undocumented, Unafraid, Unapologetic…Depressed

  1. life is a choice .. .. learning continues to spin .. have or lose the opportunity .. but all had lessons from a struggle .. all the problems that happen to form our own personal powerful, flexible dynamic .. sometimes the tears would be a gem, hatred into love. life adventure it was great .. becoming increasingly intelligent .. be wise and far from snobbery .. because all will return to God … Creator of the Universe .. give the best to make our Lord Smiles & Proud

    Liked by 2 people

  2. May I ask what is the solution? Amnesty after a few years of working in the U.S. to apply for citizenship?

    I can’t imagine not feeling safe to apply for citizenship. As for racism, that is genuinely a separate matter. It really is, if you ask some low-income black or Asian-American of their experiences. It will be similar to yours.

    YOu are right: it’s not okay to struggle alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In there case, I am not sure there is one. Once being in the country illegally, they would be deported and have a punishment of minimum of 10 years to return. People who have their residency are able to apply for citizenship. Even people who have some visas after hiring a lawyer and going through a process of course.

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      1. Since you came here along with your parents as a child /teen, it was really not your choice to arrive illegally at the time.

        If you don’t live a big city, it may be worth finding a non-profit support organization or state based legal aid organization for advice / what to do. Every state has legal aid organization. I sense that one’s current status as deportee doesn’t give you eligibility for certain govn’t services, benefits or rights. (ie. Right to vote)? Is this correct?

        I am Canadian-born and daughter of immigrant parents. Similarily in Canada if one has residency (I can’t remember required no. of residency years) after immigrating with approval by the Canadian federal govn’t or person has a Canadian govn’t issued work visa, then one can apply for citizenship or residency…whichever is necessary in the govn’t process. Canada has a refugee board tribunal that hears cases ..but I am not certain if illegal entrants go through this channel.

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      2. iam tired of you maggits blaming americans because ur losers and ware do you get off thinking americns have to pay your collage you don’t deserve anything in America you people don’t give a shit on how miserable americans are having tobe forced to live with you in our neighborhoods so why the hell should americans care about you you wernt invited to this country you invaded America and our way of living its just a matter of time when americans get so fed up with all your con games and will all be forced back to mexico where you belong

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for telling your story. We’re all here to tell our own story. We go through experiences to help others who go through the same. All in an attempt to help each other learn from it all. Let that voice sound off so that you can help give voice to the voiceless.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The article. “Undocumented…” is very moving. It captures and expresses the real life experiences of real people. The fear is real. As one who moves from an F-1 visa, to green card, to citizen–I feel the pulsating emotions of the undocumented hearts in a real way. The immigration policies call for compassion and understanding.

    Most white evangelicals support the incoming president elect. But I cannot understand how these people of the Book fail to grasp the mind of God concerning the most vulnerable among us. The Book instructed to us to care for poor in general, and it specifies: the fatherless (orphans), widows, and the stranger (aliens). Post-modern society may have changed, but the mind of God remains the same.

    A nation will be judged on the basis of how well it cares for the three people groups previously stated. They are called, “the least of these.” Who are the least of these? Matthew (25:31-46) answers the question. I hope the new president and his cabinet read this passage because he said, the Bible is his “number one book.” In a few weeks he will put his hand on it, and ask God for His help. “So, help me God!”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I wish more people would understand and stop being so heartless. We’re all one. It shouldn’t matter where we come from or how we got here. What should matter is our acts and how we interact with one another. You’re not alone. Don’t give up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can feel every line of your story. I am a Latina-Filipina living in the Philippines and I’ve been struggling with depression too. In my case, I was bullied and criticized by my fellow Filipinos when I was college because I was weird — weird in a way that they thought I have my own world because I was fond of reading books. Every time I think of committing suicide, I would always remind myself of my advocacy to help the marginalized children in my country. My advocacy is like a a voice whispering to me to continue living.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I do not know your fear as a person born in this country. The current election results show how out of touch many of us in this country are with the lives of people beyond our self absorbed world but not all. Perhaps the only power I have is in the ballot. I will work how best I can to overcome this deplorable election result. Any suggestions, many of us are listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I sympathize with you and your loved ones. A lot of people are clueless about the abuses that the undocumented experience. No one thinks about what happens when they get hurt on the job? What about the field workers that are abused with wages and hours that no one would work, but they do it because they have to take care of their family. I just wish you continued strength and I pray that you achieve your goals. In the end, no one should shoulder the world like this and you are not alone.

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  9. I didn’t know Latinas had the highest suicide rate among adolescents. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I hope you can find the help you need. I’m studying to be an immigration lawyer, so I love hearing individuals’ experiences with the system to give me a better perspective.

    xx never give up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Presidency says it is working to ensure
    that the 200,000 graduates have their jobs
    across the state of the federation by
    December 1, 2016
    – The presidency says the successful
    candidates will receive messages today,
    November 21 and will also have their names
    published on the internet portal where they
    applied
    President Buhari and vice president Yemi
    Osinbajo have moved the employment date
    forward again
    The presidency has again postponed the
    employment of 200,000 graduates which had
    been earlier slated for this month.
    The presidency confirmed an additional one-
    week postponement of the employment of
    the graduates in a statement made available
    to NAIJ.com on Sunday, November 20 and
    signed by Laolu Akande, a senior special
    assistant on media and publicity to Vice
    President Yemi Osinbajo.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I am curious… your post was back in October. Obviously after the election the world has changed (not necessarily forever.. but changed nonetheless). I was touched by your impassioned cry for understanding. Yet… I can’t help but wonder about who bears responsibility. You write well. How are you doing these days?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and anybody and everybody is unique. Our studies about human body have resulted in increase in avg life span but one topic that has not been unlocked completely is the human mind coz for that we will needing over 7 billion keys and no the master-key won’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You are very strong, standing and fighting for things. We all should have equal opportunity and a safe environment, unfortunately lots of ppl in the world are suffering. But giving up is not the solution. Stand and live this beautiful life. Stand for the week! The world will change, very slowly, so keep moving. Good luck n my prayers for Dreamers.

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